The Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI has ordered an underwater glider equipped with sensors collecting multidisciplinary data for marine research. The glider will help the FMI to diversify its marine data collection methods. The glider is the first of its kind in Finland, and it opens up new possibilities in, for example, assessing the future of the Baltic Sea more precisely.
Image: Kimmo Tikka
Acquiring the glider is the latest step for Finnish marine research in using the most modern automatic technology. The device is an unmanned satellite-controlled instrument, which travels with help of gravitational and buoyant forces as it dives constantly between the surface and the seabed, following a route that has been programmed beforehand. The glider collects information about the entire water column.
The FMI glider will be equipped with sensors that, in addition to temperature and salinity, also measure the oxygen level, the amount of chlorophyll, turbidity and the amount of organic carbon compounds (CDOM) in the water. The glider will also be equipped with a propeller that will improve its operation.
"The glider will help us to get new information about, for example, the mixing processes in the sea and the oxygen situation near the seabed. The measurements will help researchers to understand and anticipate the effects of climate change and nutrient load on the Baltic Sea", says Senior Researcher Pekka Alenius from the FMI.
The FMI has already explored the use of the glider in an EU funded project on research infrastructure Gliders for Research, Ocean Observation and Management (GROOM). The aim of the project was to develop a European marine research and observation infrastructure based on unmanned underwater gliders. Testing the glider in the Baltic sea was part of the project.
"The test was carried out together with Spanish colleagues in the Sea of Bothnia and the Archipelago Sea in autumn 2013 when it was discovered that a glider designed for ocean research could also be used in the shallow brackish waters of the Baltic Sea", explains Researcher Kimmo Tikka.
The Slocum glider in the Sea of Bothnia in 2013:
The FMI will be using a Slocum G2 coastal type glider designed for shallow waters, delivered by the US company Teledyne Webb Research. The purchase of the glider is funded jointly by the Academy of Finland and the FMI as part of the investment programme of FINMARI, the Finnish Marine Research Infrastructure.
The glider should arrive in autumn 2015, and the first research projects involving the instrument will be carried out in spring 2016. The glider has been designed for highly energy-efficient operation so that one battery charge is sufficient to carry out even a month-long research diving mission in the Baltic Sea.
Researcher Kimmo Tikka, Finnish Meteorological Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 439 2886
Senior Researcher Pekka Alenius, Finnish Meteorological Institute, email@example.com, puh. +358 50 439 2887